Benoît Poelvoorde

Belgian multi-hyphenate Benoit Poelvoorde's attention-grabbing debut as a hotwired serial killer in the cult favorite "Man Bites Dog" (1992) led to a long career in Europe as a leading man in both comedies and dramas like "Coco Before Chanel" (2009). Born September 22, 1964 in the Belgian city of Namur, Poelvoorde intended to become a draftsman, but his friendship with two school friends - Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel - changed the direction of his life and career. The trio first joined forces for a student short film, "Pas de C4 pour Daniel Daniel," a faux trailer for a spy film, before tackling their first feature film, the savage black comedy "C'est arrivé près de chez vous" ("It Happened in Your Neighborhood"/"Man Bites Dog," 1992). Produced on a shoestring budget and directed, written and starring all three collaborators, "Man Bites Dog" depicted the horrible crimes of a darkly charismatic serial killer (Poelvoorde), whose bloodlust soon overtakes the camera crew that is documenting his deeds. Equally lauded and pilloried for its extreme violence and misanthropic tone, the picture made Poelvoorde a star in his native Belgium and among cult film audiences. He soon became a favorite in France thanks to comic turns in features like "Le vélo de Ghislain Lambert" ("Ghislain Lambert's Bicycle," 2001), which helped in part to earn him the 2002 Jean Gabin Prize for most promising new actors. In 2005, Poelvoorde made his dramatic debut as a seducer who may also be a serial killer in "Entre ses mains" ("In His Hands"), which earned him a Cesar nomination. He then divided his time between broad comedies like the popular "Asterix at the Olympic Games" (2008) and more subtle fare like Anne Fontaine's Oscar-nominated "Coco Before Chanel" (2009), as French aristocrat Etienne Baslan, who provided fashion designer Coco Chanel (played by Audrey Tautou) with her entry into high society. Poelvoorde would continue to enjoy popularity in a slew of box office and critical favorites. These ranged from the comedies "Les émotifs anonymes" ("Romantics Anonymous" (2010) and Dany Boon's box office hit "Nothing to Declare" (2010) to the dramas "Le grand soir" (2012), which won the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. He also starred in the romance "3 Hearts" (2014), with his own off-screen romantic interest, actress Chiara Mastroianni.